Bernie Sanders, Vermont’s democratic socialist senator who is mounting a charge against Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton, unveiled a sweeping health care proposal just hours ahead of their party’s final primary debate before the Feb. 1 Iowa caucuses.
Sanders has pledged in recent days that his plan would be more exhaustive than President Barack Obama’s signature insurance overhaul law, and that he wouldn’t raise taxes on middle-class Americans in order to balance its books.
But Sunday afternoon he conceded in an interview that he might ‘if we can guarantee healthcare to all people comprehensive healthcare, no deductibles, and if we can cut people’s healthcare bill substantially.’
That revelation will draw howls from the Clinton camp as they debate Sunday night in Charleston, South Carolina.
Republicans, too, will fall somewhere on the spectrum between dumbfounded and outraged.
FEEL THE BERN (AND HAVE TAXPAYERS PAY FOR THE TREATMENT!): Bernie Sanders, a Democratic socialist senator running for president, unveiled a sweeping health care overhaul proposal on Sunday that will draw howls from both Hillary Clinton and the Democrats
A GOP strategist who works for one of the front-runners in Iowa told DailyMail.com that ‘this is f***ing insanity.’
‘Can you imagine doubling down on Obamacare? How unpopular does he want to be?’ he asked. ‘Bernie may have just won the New Hampshire primary, but he’s made himself unelectable in a national election.’
Clinton, however, has accused him of the exact opposite.
The former first lady, whose own universal health care plan failed to win congressional approval in the 1990s, said last week that Sanders’ Medicare-for-all proposal would mean ‘ripping up Obamacare and starting over.’
Campaigning for her mother the next day in New Hampshire, Chelsea Clinton said Sanders would ‘dismantle’ that government program and several others, including Medicare itself.
Not true, the Sanders camp charged, saying he would expand, not eliminate, the Medicare program.
Sanders’ proposal is what eager progressives call a ‘single-payer’ plan, where all medical care in America is billed to the government instead of being paid for and managed through private sources including insurance companies.
Switching to single-payer, they argue, would allow the feds to essentially buy services in bulk, driving down prices.
‘By moving to an integrated system, the government will finally have the ability to stand up to drug companies and negotiate fair prices for the American people collectively,’ Sanders wrote in his plan.
‘It will also ensure the federal government can track access to various providers and make smart investments to avoid provider shortages and ensure communities can access the providers they need.’
DEFENSE: Robert Reich, Bill Clinton’s labor secretary, preemptively defended Sanders on Sunday, saying his medical care plan is not as ‘radical’ as it will be made out to be
But conservative opponents point to similar plans in place in Canada and the United Kingdom, where care has been rationed and doctors have left the profession in droves as shrinking payments threaten their own bottom lines.
In the United States the Affordable Care Act – ‘Obamacare’ – added about 17 million Americans to the insurance rolls but left more than 29 million uninsured.
And many who now pay insurance premiums rather than face increasingly onerous fines have found themselves in ‘bronze’-level policies with deductibles high enough to make the plans difficult to justify except in catastrophic circumstances.
Robert Reich, a hard-left academic who served as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton, wrote Sunday on Facebook that ‘Bernie’s plan isn’t nearly as radical as it will be portrayed.’
‘It builds on the strengths of Medicare,’ Reich continued. ‘Like Medicare, it’s universal – separating health insurance from employment, and enabling people to choose a health care provider without worrying about whether that provider is in-network.’
‘All they’d need do is go to the doctor and show their insurance card. No more copays, no more deductibles and no more fighting with insurance companies when they fail to pay for charges.’